Approximately half the human body is made up of water, and each day we need to replace the water we lose through urine, sweat and our breath.
If we don’t replace enough of the fluids we’ve lost from our bodies, we risk becoming dehydrated which can potentially lead to major health issues. While babies receive their water requirements through the milk they drink, once your child begins taking the bulk of her nutrients from solid food, she must begin to replace lost fluids by drinking water. Although milk is a good source of nutrients, water is the best drink for satisfying thirst.
How much should my toddler drink?
While there are no firm rules about how much water should be drunk each day, a good rule of thumb is that your toddler should drink enough to quench her thirst. The weather and the amount of physical activity she is doing will impact on the amount she drinks each day, and so the best way to ensure that she drinks enough is to always have a drink of water available to her. Try to avoid offering other types of sweet drinks when she’s thirsty as they’re unnecessary and some have added salt along with the added sugar.
The best drinks for your baby or toddler are:
- From 0 to 6 months – breast milk (or infant formula if breast milk is unavailable).
- From 6 to 12 months – breast milk (or infant formula) and water.
- From 1 to 2 years – breast milk, whole cow’s milk (dark blue lid) and water.
Drinking water varieties
- All tap water to be drunk by babies under 6 months should be boiled and then cooled.
- Until your baby is 6 months old, you should bring all tap water that is being used for formula to the boil before it’s used.
- Because of the possibility of bacteria and contamination, rain water should always be boiled before it is drunk – regardless of age. This particularly important for the very young, the old and the ill.
- While rainwater usually contains very few chemicals, it’s not recommended that you drink it – even after boiling – if you live in a heavy traffic or industrial area.
- Tap filters work only to take out the large particles from water – they can’t remove fluoride or any other dissolved minerals.
- Filters cannot protect you from getting an infection from the water it filters, so filtered water should be treated in the same way tap water is – you should boil it for babies under 6 months.
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot. Sources include SA Government’s Parenting and Child Health and Public Health